Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 59

Light winds again today, but I made reasonably good progress with what I had, though it came at a price as I had to pick the boat up on every stroke, which make for some grueling hours on the oars. Crossed 47W about an hour before nightfall, which at this point comes a little before 10PM GMT.

I'll be happy to get this quarter of the trip behind me when I cross 50W in a few days' time. The let-down after hitting halfway at 40W was much more troubling than I expected, and I've since had to readjust mentally to return to the outlook that "I'm moving in the right direction, but I still have a long way to go." I'll try to wait to think about Antigua until I cross 60W, which is just about 100 miles from the finish.

OK, on to the stars. I've thought a lot about how to describe them for you, but I'm still not sure I'll be able to do them justice. As many of you know, I probably spend more time than most staring at the night sky (and have since I was a kid) so the landscape is reasonably familiar. With that said, the views I see out here feel like I'm looking at a completely different sky compared to what I've seen at home, even on the darkest nights.

Imagine walking around a familiar room with the lights off. You know your way around, can make out the general shapes of the furniture, and won't bump into things. Then one day as you're feeling your way around someone flicks on the lights and WOW! Amazing! Incredible! All of a sudden you can see the color of the couch, the books on the shelves, and the pattern on the rug. Who knew this room was full of so much stuff?

Well, if that analogy makes sense to anyone but me, that's what it's like looking at the stars out here. The stars blanket the sky completely--enough to convince me that there isn't an inch of sky that doesn't contain at least one dim star.

The constellations are dramatic and dominating. You don't have to look for Orion. He dominates the scene from the very center of the night sky, his arrow pointing West just after nightfall. The big dipper is enormous and swings a wide arc around the north star, which at this latitude is lower on the horizon than I'm used to, having lived in the 40N latitudes all of my life. I find it impossible to look at one star or one constellation without immediately being distracted and drawn to another one nearby--a process that is repeated until I have to give up trying to look at them all.

Hopefully this gives you some sense of the night sky out here. It's really one of the highlights of the trip for me, and a real treat after a long day of rowing.

Quick shout-out to the brothers of Theta Chi Fraternity at Colgate University, who are throwing a fundraiser/party on behalf of Row for Hope, complete with rowing machine races by the brothers, which will be entertaining for sure. For anyone betting on the outcome of these races, my advice is that, no matter the relative size of the competitors, always bet on the experienced rower.

Wow, longest update ever. I might have earned myself a day off with this one. Bed time!

Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit



Anonymous said...

Wow, that sounds amazing. I wish I could get such a view of the stars. I have always loved looking at the stars when I'm in the middle of nowhere in Moosehead Lake, Maine for the summer, but sounds like your view is even more amazing! It definitely makes you more aware that we are one small speck in this universe. Happy rowing, you are almost there!!


Seshat said...

Stars, I have seen them fall,
But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea,
And still the sea is salt.

Stars by A. E. Housman

Do you see any falling stars?
Any shooting stars?

You do know that you are the star
in our sky??!!

Nancy and family.....

Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing your vision on the stars, it really helps us feel like being a part of your voyage. It has to be beautiful and breath taking. It makes us feel like driving to the country just to look up.

You will come away with such special moments with this venture and the blog will serve as a book in itself.

I will think of the stars myself tonight as I lay down to sleep and say my prayers for your continued safe journey!

Gods Blessing,

Phil & Margo

Anonymous said...

arrrrrrrrggggg.....just remember you have to be lost to find a place that no one wants to you to find...

captain barbosa

Anonymous said...

Hello Paul,

Thank you so much for your beautiful description of the firmament! It must be magical to look up at a sky strewn with millions of stars. I hope their beauty help you a little to carry on with your heroic journey across the sea.

I can only imagine how much determination, courage, strength, know-how and also humor it takes to accomplish what you are doing. You have come a very long way already.

Wishing you high spirits and low waves (no more big splashes)!

Margit ex-GA

K-Rock and #1 Wild Bill said...

Hi Buddy - Stars sound amazing.Great descriptions -thanks for sharing. Wild Bill wonders if you are seeing some of the constellations from the Southern Sky? Orion is kind of setting here - he's one of the few we can pick out on Lincoln Ave. Looking at night sky unsullied by city lights is truly something to be enjoyed. Treasure it! We're off tomorrow (Sunday) to the Philadelphia Flower Show - I know you're sorry to be missing that adventure! Liz is getting snowed in in Indianapolis - not a happy camper. Keep up the good work - your head is in the right place - one mile at a time and you'll achieve the goal. xxoo -

Anonymous said...

Where in the Atlantic is Paul Ridley???

A couple days ago Mrs Black said the her 2nd Grade Class "Can't see your GPS anymore since they returned from winter break".

I had the same problem since the screen where the GPS used to appear is now blank.

But then I found if I scrolled down to the very bottom of the screen I could see the GPS of your latest position.

I hope that this information will help the 2nd graders to see where your are.

Anonymous said...

One more try on Where to Find Paul Ridley ...

Great narrative about the stars; can almost see them in my mind's eye!

Be safe. Be well. Row hard ... each day is one day closer and one day less left to go.

Sheila said...

I heard your voice on CNN!! It was so nice to hear it!! :)

Really miss you! Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Hey buddy, I just saw your spot on CNN! That's some great coverage for the charity. Keep up the great work! We'll be ready up here in CT for the huge welcome home party!

Anonymous said...

Just heard you on CNN -- what a great piece! Now the world will know what all your loyal followers learned 59 days ago -- your story is amazing and Row For Hope is an amazing vehicle to support the cancer cause. Keep up the great work! -- ETS

Anonymous said...

Paul, You are amazing and your Mom is so incredibly thankful for you.
But she wants you to know that God's love is expressed in more ways than we could ever imagine.
Her passing here is of no concern to the greater purpose God holds for all His children. He is the
Creator, Designer, Most Purposeful & Loving ALL in ALL. Worry not.
Cancer is but an erroneous though, made manifest. Promise! You can no more change God's universe than you can change your thought. Wait a minute! We CAN change our thought! From East Moriches, Long Island...Godspeed, dear child!

Dan said...

Hey man, just saw you on CNN. Was at a bar and we had them put it on the TV there. Your barnacle scraping picture was pretty prominent during the interview! Haha!

Keep up the great rowing, I'm sure you have a million new fans now that you are a national CNN celebrity, which is awesome!

Kittie said...

Hello Paul!
Just heard about your journey on CNN & have to say I'm very impressed. I'm sure your mother is extremely proud of the son she raised. Cancer is so insidious & has effected most everyone I know so it's wonderful to hear about someone doing something to help raise awareness. Thank God for all the technology that is allowing you to feel connected to the rest of the world. Good luck & you will be in my prayers. Safe rowing, Kittie

Anonymous said...

I just saw your story on CNN...
I am a 67 yrs lady who wishes she could still do things like you are doing.

I wish you the very best of luck on your journey.

God Speed.

Sue Woost
Mabelvale, AR

pebs said...


I hope you kept Tim Salmon in your keeper league...if he is even used to love him. Is Chris Butterfield also available???

Susan T. said...

Awesome description of the stars - it must be even more fantastic than the many nights I remember camping in the Colorado mountains.

This is something my 9-year-old daughter had never seen having been raised here in Connecticut. When we vacationed in Colorado over the holidays, I inadvertently (long story) ended up having to go over a high, lonely, snow covered mountain pass after dark. At one point, I just pulled over and told her to get out of the car. She looked at me like I'd lost my mind, but I told her it would be a long time before she would ever see stars like that again, lighting up the whole of the night sky, with the Milky Way in "full bloom."

Sorry I missed the CNN - hopefully it might appear on YouTube as most things do....

Still behind you all the way!! (of course, if I were really behind you I would help push!)

Susan T. ("The Ex-GA Club")

Kristel said...

I'm another one who saw you on CNN. You are an inspiration. Your mother would be so proud.

Now that I know about your adventure, I shall continue to follow your progress.

I'm holed up in my house (Augusta, GA) waiting for snow to arrive and nursing a sick 5 year old son and a sick husband back to health. Tracking your progress is a great way 'escape' for a few minutes. Good luck and happy rowing!

Karen said...

Hi Paul,

Just saw your story on CNN. Remarkable! What has being out to sea for 59 days taught you about your life? What will you do differently when this is all over? And how has this affected you emotionally? Any interesting stories you care to share? What about the food, are you tired of it, do you have enough to keep you going? Can you exercise? You have us contributors as angels watching over you via your blog. And tomorrow when I am in a boring meeting at work I will wonder how you are out there. Take care of yourself. I will donate.

Karen in Wisconsin

Katy said...

Hi Paul,

Just saw your interview on CNN. It was really great to hear your voice! I hope the news coverage helps the cause!

Is there any way you can put a donation counter on the website? It would be really awesome to be able to see what kind of progress is being made on that front.

Hang in there!!


Anonymous said...

Stars sound like a good view.
Reminds me of an argument from abou 8 years ago, that possibly we still have yet to finish.
Keep a watch on that Orion.
He's been a trouble maker before.

Later Buddy,


Lisa said...

You are simply amazing. Your story captured my heart when I learned about you today on the news. Please stay safe out there. You are in our prayers in your courageous journey. Your mother is looking down upon you and is so proud of her son.

I want to check back everyday until you arrive safely back home. I would love to see a movie and read a book about your travels in the Atlantic Ocean!

God Bless,
Lisa & Joe
Atlanta, Georgia